Toddler's Forest School Garden

Measured Risks and The Great Outdoors

Getting outdoors could not be more important right now, and the health benefits that come with it are not only beneficial but fundamental to our wellbeing. But are the youngest members of our society getting enough outdoor adventurous play? Recent studies suggest not. 85% of parents admit they would like their children to have more adventure, whilst 44% admit they played outside more as a child then their own children do. Indeed this is a sign of the times and sometimes children miss out on these opportunities due to safety worries.

At Inspirations you can rest assured that your children are getting more than their fair share of outdoor play. Our outdoor areas are of equal, if not more importance to our indoor spaces. The 2-3 age group is where our children are first introduced to a designated forest school area in addition to their outdoor area.

Our toddler room garden is an extension of their classroom, filled with repurposed objects and areas that support the many types of schemas as mentioned in the previous blog. There are balancing beams, planks, crates, small world areas to support interests, and many more. It is here we make use of the larger loose parts and ambiguous resources such as milk crates, planks and go kart wheels. We have an open doors policy so in all weathers our toddlers have access to the outdoors.

Raising Confident Learners

Not all children have easy access to nature, so it's important we offer this space from a young age. But why is it important for young children to experience adventurous play?

In 2019 we gained planning permission to extend our toddler room garden and build a Forest School Area. This zone is opened up with increased staffing and introduces the children to more adventurous play, with tracks, steps, netting, hills and trees to explore and climb.

Providing this access opens up valuable experiences they may not get elsewhere. As their brains are forming, growing and changing every minute these measured risks they are exposed to supports healthy boundaries and emotional and physical development. This purpose built area means children are using core muscles, with hills to mount and areas to climb. The uneven ground tests and strengthens their vestibular balance skills and coordination.

Whilst children navigate this recently developed area we encourage them to safely create their own boundaries, trial ways of movement, and learn to just keep trying. Instead of suggesting how to use the area, we as educators will avoid giving direction but instead ask open ended questions. 'I wonder where you'll go next?' or 'wow that looked really hard, and you didn't give up'.  By focusing on questions and observations rather than just praise and direction we are building our toddlers inner confidence that sets them up for life.

By creating dens between the trees, growing lavender and scaling balance beams, having this little taste of adventure prepares our toddlers for Forest School when they move to Pre-school ....and beyond.

-Nathalie

Being Two- What are Schemas?

Welcome to part two of our focus on Being Two. This week we take a look at schemas, what they are, how our toddler room supports them, and ways to support this at home.

Have you made a cup of tea today, switched a light on, picked a pen off the floor and moved it to a flat surface to avoid it rolling off again? Then you have used schemas today without even realising it.

A schema, put simply is like a mental model, a set of instructions we act out in our brain based on what has been successful in the the past. Whilst we come across schemas every time we learn something brand new, as you can imagine this happens the most at 2 and 3 years old.

Our toddler room is a HUB of schemas and is filled with opportunities to create these brain connections.

If I hit this will it break?

Whilst in may appear our little ones are rampaging through rooms causing chaos perhaps it helps to change our perspective and remember they are simply creating cognitive blue prints that set them up for life.

What happens if i drop this? Does this bounce? If I hit this will it break?

The Main Types of Schemas

Below are some examples of Schemas and how they are supported within the provision:

  •  Transporting – Moving objects or themselves from place to place. Moving things
    with their hands. Bags, pots, pans, containers, sad.
  • Rotation – Turn and rotate objects or themselves. Roll their bodies, playing with toys
    that spin, twist, and turn or even ride bikes. They could use Tyres, Wheels, Cable
    reels and cars to explore this interest.
  • Enclosing – Join lines or build structures with objects such as bricks, magnets, or
    malleable materials to form enclosures/models.
  •  Connecting – Joining things together, fastening or tying things. Separating or
    disconnecting construction etc.
  • Positioning- Our loose parts ethos lends its self well to this schema, lining things up, ordering different sized objects.
  • Enclosing or enveloping- There is always a large cardboard box on the go in our toddler room setting for the children to climb into. But this can also be seen with sand or soil or fabric.
  • Transforming- Messy play- gloop, water trays, mark making

I have attached a link that details further Schemas and how you at home can support these at home.
http://www.flyingstart.uk.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Schema.pdf


Being Two

This Month we are focusing on our middle room at nursery, the toddler room, also known as our Honeybees room.  Being two is more commonly referred to as the ‘Dreaded Twos’ or ‘Terrible Twos’; a term we find very unjust and instead celebrate this age with the phrase ‘Terrific Twos'.

Terrific Twos

It is very easy to conclude that your Toddler is in the midst of the ‘Terrible two’s’ when they act up and try push your buttons, especially when you are faced with patience testing tantrums.
It is important to remember that they are experiencing so many emotions and ultimately navigating their way into becoming tiny humans. They do not mean to drive you to the bottle of wine sat in your fridge, they are just growing and learning whilst showing you who they are and that being two really is terrific.

Adventure and Independence

In our eyes being a two year-old is about adventure and independence, traits we
feel are continuing to shape them after the transition from Baby to Toddler.

The Toddler room, or the Honeybee’s room as we refer to it is set up to allow the above,
and is a large area both indoors and out to move around freely, with many areas of
provision to explore and investigate. Whilst these areas are being slowly destroyed by tiny
hands and feet, friendships are being formed, and language is continuing to develop by
using simple sentences to share feelings, experiences and thoughts. They become more
aware of others feelings, and they are starting to understand boundaries and routines, as
well as listening with interest and understanding simple questions.

Milestones - Potty Training

Being Two also comes with it's challenges and a certain milestone is often met during this
period of their lives… Potty Training! Early signs that they may be transitioning
to this stage include awareness and communication. From telling you that they have done
something in their nappy to expressing the urge to go, these are all clear indictors that the
time is right and you should go with it and know that we are always their to support you. Remember that children develop at their own pace and they may not be ready to be potty trained until later.

Here are some links to books and tips for support-
https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=potty+training+books+for+toddlers&crid=BLJ3UFJL3K9O&sprefix=potty+training+%2Caps%2C192&ref=nb_sb_ss_ts-doa-p_3_15

https://www.pull-ups.co.uk/tips/when-to-start/what-age-to-start/?gclsrc=ds&&msclkid=18fb426620f51cbdb4c42221b8ae54cb&utm_source=bing&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=Pull-Ups+%7C+Information+%7C+Search+%7C+Questions+%26+Advice+%7C+Exact&utm_term=tips+for+potty+training&utm_content=Potty+Training+Tips&gclid=CJHJ4cnIo-8CFcOPGwodIZsHOQ

 

 

Children are not things to be moulded, but people to be unfolded- Jess Lair

Next week we will focus on the importance of schemas, with some tips to supporting young children's language development. In the meantime if you've had a tough day, you've passed bath time and skipped straight to bedtime, you're still doing a great job.  Remember it is this age that children are making new connections in their brain, pushing boundaries and learning vocabulary at rapid speed. We have to give credit to them for all this multitasking, whilst keeping our silliness alive, reigniting our imagination, and providing daily entertainment.

Although there can be some hard times amongst the great times if we start to see the world through their perspective we might all agree that life as a toddler can be challenging but also very fun.

-Ashleigh

 


Loose Parts In A Basket For Learning

Loose Parts

Why do we use loose parts?

Loose parts are a significant segment of our ethos at Inspirations Nurseries. Before moving away from conventional toys, we did a lot of research into the benefits of using loose parts. Several education pedagogies use loose parts. Reggio Emilia and loose parts complement each other well; we use both at Inspirations. Both philosophies support open ended play using natural resources, imagination, and creativity. When children are given opportunities to engage in free play with little adult direction, they are able to explore freely with creativity and expression, because there are no limitations or expectations.

Loose Parts Basket from the Hedgehog Babyroom

What are Loose Parts?

Loose parts are open ended materials that can be moved around, designed, and redesigned. They create opportunities to use our imaginations and discover new ideas. Conventional toys are fixed for the one purpose they were made for, whereas loose parts are open ended and can be used for a variety of things. A plastic car can only be a car. A stick could be a magic wand or a person or you could use a number of them to make a house… the possibilities are endless. Ask any parent how long their children will play with the cardboard box a toy comes in on their birthdays. Loose parts can be found anywhere. How many of us remember going to the beach and collecting shells and stones and making patterns with them? You can find loose parts in the house, in the garden or on a walk. Loose parts include both manufactured and natural resources. These can include stones, pinecones, rings, balls, blocks, boxes, leaves and even nuts and bolts.

Endless Possibilities

For outdoor play, we provide a variety of large loose parts such as tyres of different sizes, milk crates, planks of wood, cable reels etc. In our baby rooms, we use a variety of loose parts to support schemas; we use things like curtain rings to hang on mug trees, balls to post through holes, tyres to encourage rolling. Toddlers can then use slightly smaller loose parts such as pebbles to create patterns and smaller wood slices for counting. Preschool are able to use more intricate loose parts such as beads, small tiles and items they find on forest school.

The founder of the Reggio Emilia Philosophy said...

  “Children need the freedom to appreciate the infinite resources of their hands, their eyes and their ears, the resources of forms, materials, sounds and colours”.

-Kayleigh

 

See loose parts in action in our Pre-School room here- https://youtu.be/Nngfh6Uj-yw

 

All photos from Inspirations Nursery